A new directorate for Swansea Bay UHB

Freshwater worked alongside Swansea Bay University Health Board staff for 18 months, unifying three strands of activity into a new directorate to strengthen the Board’s ability to create and build meaningful relationships with public, staff and stakeholders. Freshwater’s Director of Healthcare, Nick Samuels, took up post as the Board’s interim Director of Communications to lead the transformation.



and resourced a new Directorate for insight, communications and engagement


staff newspapers distributed across 81 sites


CEO team brief sessions

In spring 2021, Freshwater was tasked with unifying three strands of activity – communications, engagement and fundraising – at Swansea Bay University Health Board, as well as adding a new insight capability, bringing all areas together under common direction and a shared mission.

The goal was to enhance the Board’s ability to create and sustain meaningful relationships with patients, public, staff and stakeholders and to act on key learnings.

Our client recognised that they had resources for engagement and communications for the role that was needed in one of the largest NHS organisations in the UK.

The Board serves a population of around 400,000 encompassing a major UK city, the wider metropolitan and regional rural area and some national specialities. There are 13,000 staff across three large acute hospitals, several mental health centres, dozens of community locations, and 49 GP practices.

The challenges of communicating and engaging with such a diverse population, staff and stakeholders are significant. Our brief was to build a service that could meet those needs.

Freshwater’s Director of Healthcare, Nick Samuels, took up post as the Board’s interim Director of Communications to lead the transformation.

For a year and a half Freshwater colleagues worked alongside the Board’s staff to set about building the framework for fostering positive relationships and ensuring effective communications across the organisation.

This required a realigning of existing resources and priorities, investment in new channels and skills, and unifying leadership and organisation across the range of engagement and communication activities. We did this with the creation of a Directorate of Insight, Communications and Engagement (DICE).

The purpose of DICE was to improve what the Board knows about its audiences, how it communicates with them and how it takes what it learns from those interactions to improve the Board’s effectiveness in delivering its mission.

In short, it was about improving how people experience the healthcare they receive – making use of all available knowledge, data and experience to enhance relationships with staff, patients, stakeholders and the wider public.

With the new directorate in place our role was to make sure it delivered, with new tools, systems and a suite of communications products. We also ran the recruitment process of a permanent leader for the directorate who could build on the foundations we helped lay.

Once the new integrated directorate was in place we moved on to delivering priority activity under three pillars: insight, communications and engagement. Key activity included:

  • Developing a monthly management team briefing
  • Designing a brand new staff newspaper – Bay Health – distributed bimonthly across all sites
  • Overhauling digital channels including a new staff intranet
  • Introducing a new to measure success
  • Enhancing in-house capabilities across design, video and digital

The new DICE insight team was also given a brief to be curious and analytical about what is learnt from engagement, complaints and patient experience and to analyse and identify trends and issues for the Health Board’s leadership.

Nick Samuels

Director of Healthcare
0207 067 1595


Swansea Bay University Health Board

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